This weekend was our first bowl season experience. We look forward to more action throughout the week.
We’ve had some really good games so far and a few clunkers. But that’s the nature of these bowl games. Some teams may be completely absent (e.g. Florida), but others are determined to win a postseason title.
There’s at least one game every day this week other than Christmas, so college football will be there to keep you company. For these picks, we’re focusing on the nine games on the schedule from Monday, Dec. 19 through Monday, Dec. 26.
Let’s see if we can provide some winners.
(All times ET. odds from BetMGM)
Myrtle Beach Bowl – Marshall vs. UConn
Date: December 19, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. | Line: Marshall -10.5 | Total: 40.5
Nick Bromberg Jim Mora Jr. was a remarkable UConn player who got the Huskies to a bowl match for the first-time in seven years. UConn has been outscored this season by more than six goals per game, and was defeated by Army by 17. But with the total for this game set so low at 40.5, I’m banking on the UConn defense to keep this one close, especially since the Huskies are getting more than 10 points.
Pick: UConn +10.5
Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo vs. Liberty
Date: Dec. 20 (7:30 p.m.) | Line: Toledo -5 | Total: 54
Sam Cooper It’s hard to ignore how poorly Liberty played in the season finale vs. New Mexico State, but I think the Hugh Freeze-Auburn distraction played a huge part in that day’s effort. Liberty can end the season on an upbeat note with Freeze out of sight and almost a whole month to reset. Although Toledo won the MAC title, it did so against an Ohio team that didn’t have a starting quarterback. Dequan Finn is a dynamic player for the Rockets, but I don’t think Toledo is five points better than Liberty. I’ll take the underdog.
New Orleans Bowl: South Alabama vs. Western Kentucky
Date: Dec. 21 (9 p.m.) | Line: USA -4.5 | Total: 56
Nick BrombergBoth teams average over 30 points per match, while WKU allows for nearly 24 points. This line would be a lot different if QB Austin Reed hadn’t announced that he was staying at WKU after taking his name out of the transfer portal. Reed threw for 36 TDs 2022. I believe this game will be won with Reed on-the field.
Select: Choose from 56
Sam CooperSouth Alabama has had a great season as an FBS member. It can improve its record by winning its first bowl victory. USA has only two losses this season — a one-point road loss to UCLA and then a 10-6 loss to Troy, the Sun Belt champions. I have a lot of faith in Kane Wommack’s defense to keep a high-powered WKU offense in check, even with Austin Reed withdrawing from the transfer portal. And Reed wasn’t the only member of WKU’s program with wandering eyes. Tyson Helton’s name came up in multiple coaching searches, including Purdue last week. The Jaguars’ focus and cohesiveness is what I admire.
Pick: South Alabama -4.5
Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor against the Air Force
Date: Dec. 22 (7:30 p.m.) | Line: Baylor -5.5 | Total: 48
Nick Bromberg: Since the Oct. 8 win by Utah State 34-27, no player has scored more than 20 in a game against Air Force. That’s a streak of six straight games, albeit all were against non-Power Five competition. Baylor’s offense is better when it runs the ball and two running offenses could mean a fairly quick game. A relatively low-scoring one.
Select: Less than 48
Sam Cooper: Baylor’s motivation is questionable. BU, which won the Sugar Bowl and the Big 12, is now 6-6. It will face an option team in a bowl on the campus of a college rival (who happens also to be in College Football Playoff). Baylor is disappointed with its season ending with three consecutive losses. Dave Aranda has fired Ron Roberts, the defensive coordinator. He will now call the defense. Before he became a head coach, he was one of the nation’s top coordinators. BU should be able handle this option and still have its own rushing attack. Baylor was 4-4 in games where Blake Shapen made 30 or more passes. In a game where I’m expecting a lot of running, the under is the play.
Select: Less than 48
Independence Bowl: Houston against Louisiana
Line: Houston -7 | Line: Houston -7 | Total: 58.5
Sam Cooper There’s no way you should trust Houston to cover this spread. UH was one of the most volatile teams in the country. Dana Holgorsen, who is currently 2-7 against spreads in bowl play, was also the most unpredictable. When the season began, this team had big dreams. UH was even considered to be a Cincinnati-type team. UH is now 7-5, and closes its season in Shreveport. Louisiana played better in the latter part of the year. UL nearly beat Troy and was then able to reach bowl eligibility thanks to convincing wins over Georgia Southern, Texas State and Texas State. Louisiana is more likely to be interested in this game than Louisiana, as it will be playing in its own state. I’ll take the touchdown.
Pick: Louisiana +7
Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest against Missouri
Date: Dec. 23, 6:30 p.m. | Line: Wake Forest -1.5 | Total: 60.5
Sam Cooper Over the second half of the season, there were some strange vibes at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have lost four out of five games. This began with the game against Louisville in which they had six third-quarter turnovers. Dave Clawson has already been on the record that this is Sam Hartman’s last game at Wake — whether he goes into the NFL or the transfer portal. Missouri, however, faced much more difficult competition in the SEC, and appeared to be turning the corner in offense late in the season. The difference was using Brady Cook’s legs. The first-year starting QB combined for 315 rushing yards in Missouri’s final three games. During that 1-4 stretch, Wake Forest’s defense allowed an average of 36.6 points per game.
Pick: Missouri +1.5